Honda has confirmed its plans to update its power unit at this weekend’s French Grand Prix, with a performance increase displayed during dyno testing.
As revealed by RACER at the end of last week, Honda will introduce its third specification of power unit at the Circuit Paul Ricard as it continues an aggressive development approach during its first year in partnership with Red Bull. Both Red Bull drivers and Daniil Kvyat in the Toro Rosso will receive the update — that also includes the turbocharger — and Honda Formula 1 technical director Toyoharu Tanabe says multiple areas of the company have been involved in the latest step.
“At the Paul Ricard circuit we will be running an upgraded Spec 3 Power Unit on Max (Verstappen), Pierre (Gasly) and Daniil’s cars,” Tanabe said. “The changes to the previous specification are mainly around the ICE and the turbocharger.
“In this instance, our engineers at the Sakura, Japan R&D facility have worked closely with other departments within Honda, specifically the Aero engine development department. Their work and ours has many common technical features. For example, our 2018 update to the MGU-H, which dramatically improved its reliability, came as a result of our collaboration with them.
“In producing this Spec 3 PU, we have updated the turbocharger thanks to the knowledge and technology of the Aero engine department in the area of aerodynamic design, working alongside turbocharger manufacturer IHI.”
While Tanabe is encouraged by the progress being shown, he says the update will not completely erase the deficit to the likes of Mercedes and Ferrari.
“Our test bench data shows a power increase over the previous version of our PU; however, we know that we have not yet matched the figures from the manufacturers currently leading the championship. But it’s a step in the right direction and we will continue our development throughout the rest of the season, calling on the resources of the whole company.”
Alexander Albon is the only Honda-powered driver who will not receive the upgrade this weekend, and while the Red Bull drivers can take the new specification without penalty, Kvyat’s fourth ICE will mean he drops 10 places on the grid.